The Egyptian Sisi visits Saudi Arabia amid financial pressures and regional alliances

RIYADH (Reuters) – President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday, the official Saudi Press Agency said, as Cairo seeks financial inflows to ease pressure on its currency and prop up the ailing economy.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has always provided financial support to Egypt, but recently indicated that it would not provide such support without conditions, which observers believe may have triggered a rare media clash between the two countries.

The trip also comes amid a major diplomatic realignment in the region, with moves by Saudi Arabia and Egypt to ease tensions with Syria, Iran and Turkey.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, met Sisi in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, the Saudi Press Agency said, where they discussed bilateral relations and regional developments.

It added that other Saudi and Egyptian officials, including Saudi National Security Adviser Massad bin Muhammad al-Aiban and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, attended the meeting.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have come to Egypt’s aid repeatedly since Sisi led the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood a decade ago.

When financial difficulties in Egypt were exposed and exacerbated by the fallout from the war in Ukraine last year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar made deposits in the Central Bank of Egypt and undertook significant new investments.

But those investments have been slow to happen, putting new pressure on the Egyptian pound in recent weeks despite the currency losing nearly half of its value against the dollar since March 2022.

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Egypt signed a $3 billion rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund in December targeting foreign direct investment of $9.7 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2023.

(Reporting by Muhammed Wali, Muhammed Ahmed Hasan and Aziz Al Yaqoubi). Written by Aidan Lewis. Editing by Sharon Singleton and Jerry Doyle

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